Taking Sarah at Face Value

| Tue Jul. 7, 2009 12:00 PM EDT

Sarah Palin, decked out in fishing gear and hauling in the salmon, talks to ABC's Kate Snow about why she quit as governor of Alaska:

Palin conceded many people are still confused about why she made the decision to leave office. "You know why they're confused? I guess they cannot take something nowadays at face value," Palin said.

But she said a major factor in the decision was the mounting legal bills she and the state have had to incur to fight ethics charges from her political adversaries. None of the accusations has been proven but, she said, the costs of fighting them have been enormous.

"You know conditions have really changed in Alaska in the political arena since Aug. 29, since I was tapped to run for VP. When that opposition research — those researchers really bombarded Alaska — started digging for dirt and have not let up. They're not gonna find any dirt," she said. "We keep proving that every time we win an ethics violation lawsuit and we've won every one of them. But it has been costing our state millions of dollars. It's cost Todd and me. You know the adversaries would love to see us put on the path of personal bankruptcy so that we can't afford to run."

I'm actually more willing than most to take Palin's explanation at face value.  The constant stream of piddling and frivolous ethics charges probably did get hard to put up with and probably did cost her a lot of money.  But don't most politicians in similar circumstances set up a legal defense fund of some kind?  The attacks would still be annoying, but dealing with them doesn't necessarily have to be either a huge time sink or a huge personal cost, especially when you have the fundraising power she does.

Very mysterious.  But my guess is that the other half of her explanation should be taken at face value too.  (Well, face value plus a little bit extra.)  Namely that she doesn't want to be a lame duck.  Not because she doesn't want to milk the good citizens of Alaska for lots of overseas junkets, but because the entire legislature hates her guts these days and the whole thing has become a slog.  "We won't get anything done," she told Snow, and just that's no fun.  Giving speeches to adoring throngs is way more satisfying.

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